Kaigun Makes 2015 Debut in Arcadia Stakes

Kaigun, one of the most honest and classy grass horses in training last year, makes his first start since November when he takes on eight opponents in the $200,000 Arcadia Stakes (gr. IIT) Jan. 31 at Santa Anita Park.

The 5-year-old gelded son of Northern Afleet   knocked heads with some of the country’s top turf competitors last year such as champions Wise Dan and Main Sequence, as well as major stakes winners Real Solution  , Twilight Eclipse, and Bobby’s Kitten. In 11 starts last year, Kaigun won three stakes and was beaten less than three lengths six times, including a close second, beaten three-quarters of length, to Wise Dan in the Makers46 Mile (gr. IT). He also was beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by two-time Eclipse champion Main Sequence in the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT).


In all, he raced at eight different tracks last year at five different distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/4 miles. In his final start of 2014, he defeated the top-class Za Approval in the grade II Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar.


Corey Nakatani returns to ride for trainer Mark Casse, breaking from post 4 under top weight of 123 pounds.


Owned by Gary Barber and Quintessential Racing et al, Kaigun has been training sharply at Santa Anita, with his most recent work a five-furlong drill in 1:00 flat over the turf course.


Za Approval, who was second to Wise Dan in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), is back for another crack at Kaigun under Mike Smith. The 7-year-old is a recent shipper from Florida, where he finished fourth in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 18.


The son of Ghostzapper, making his second start for Casse after previously racing for Christophe Clement, was second to Wise Dan in the grade I Woodbine Mile in 2013 and has grade III stakes wins in the Knickerbocker and Red Bank to his credit.


Heading the horses not trained by Casse are Avanzare, the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) winner trained by the always dangerous Tom Proctor; Eddie D (gr. IIIT) winner Home Run Kitten, from the barn of David Hofmans; and the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) third-place finisher Talco.


Rounding out the field are Play Hard to Get, Baccelo, Edge of Reality, and the speedy front-runner El Nino Terrible.

Arcadia S. (gr. IIT)

Santa Anita Park , Saturday, January 31, 2015, Race 7
  • 1m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 4 yo’s & up
  • 3:30 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Weight Trainer
1 Play Hard to Get (KY) Alex O. Solis 118 J. Eric Kruljac
2 Home Run Kitten (KY) Joseph Talamo 118 David E. Hofmans
3 Baccelo (BRZ) Tiago Josue Pereira 118 Paulo H. Lobo
4 Kaigun (ON) Corey S. Nakatani 123 Mark E. Casse
5 Edge of Reality (PA) Flavien Prat 118 H. Graham Motion
6 El Nino Terrible (KY) Fernando Hernandez Perez 118 Peter Miller
7 Talco (FR) Drayden Van Dyke 118 John W. Sadler
8 Za Approval (KY) Mike E. Smith 118 Mark E. Casse
9 Avanzare (KY) Gary L. Stevens 118 Thomas F. Proctor

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89859/kaigun-makes-2015-debut-in-arcadia-stakes#ixzz3QEW9Kh4B

Ties Atop TJC’s Experimental Free Handicaps

The Jockey Club’s 2014 Experimental Free Handicap, released Jan. 29, features ties in both the male and female categories. Texas Red, winner of the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and Eclipse Award winner American Pharoah share high weight of 126 pounds on the male list while champion filly Take Charge Brandi shares the 123-pound high weight on the female list with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) winner Lady Eli.

The 126 pounds assigned to Texas Red and American Pharoah is the standard impost for top Experimental colts and equivalent to the assignment to last year’s highweight, New Year’s Day  .

The Jockey Club Experimental Free Handicap, published annually since 1935, is a weight-based assessment of the previous year’s leading 2-year-olds, with the weights compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles.

This year’s list of eligible horses was expanded to review all 2-year-olds of 2014 that started in graded or listed stakes races run in the continental United States instead of only the top four finishers. Out of the eligible 196 males and 174 fillies, a total of 100 males and 88 fillies were assigned weights.

The weighting committee of racing secretaries included four this year with P.J. Campo of The Stronach Group, Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland, Martin Panza of the New York Racing Association, and Thomas S. Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

All Experimental Free Handicap weight assignments, as well as past performances for those horses, are available within the Resources section of jockeyclub.com.

Not only was Kentucky the foaling state for the top four weighted horses, but it was again the leading foaling state of all weighted horses with 71 males and 59 fillies; Florida was second with nine males and five fillies. Ireland led foaling countries outside of the U.S. with seven fillies and one male.

Kitten’s Joy   was the leading sire of weighted horses with two fillies and four males. Tied for second with five total were Curlin  , Sky Mesa  , and War Front  .

Texas Red (Afleet Alex  Ramatuelle, by Jeune Homme) won two of five starts and earned $1,192,300. He was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings.

American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile  Littleprincessemma, by Yankee Gentleman  ) was bred in Kentucky by Zayat Stables. He won two out of three starts including the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) and FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I). He earned $361,500.

Lady Eli (Divine Park  Sacre Coeur by Saint Ballado) won all three of her starts with earnings of $719,800. She was bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm Inc. and Catesby W. Clay.

Take Charge Brandi (Giant’s Causeway  Charming by Seeking the Gold) won four out of eight starts including the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), Delta Downs Princess Stakes (gr. III), and the Starlet Stakes (gr. I) for earnings of $1,620,126. She was bred in Kentucky by Charming Syndicate.

Experimental Free Handicap facts:

• The Experimental Handicap started in 1933 in the U.S. as a variation of England’s Free Handicap. There was no Experimental compiled in 1934.

• Today a mythical race designed to gauge the ability of top 2-year-olds during their 3-year-old campaigns, the Experimental Free Handicap was for more than a decade a real race.

• The Experimental Handicap was a six-furlong race from 1940-45.

• The “free” designation became part of the name from 1946-52 because there was not a nomination fee.

• From 1946-52, the Experimental Free Handicap was contested as two races: one at six furlongs and another at 1 1/16 miles.

•  Six of the Triple Crown winners led their 2-year-old class: Whirlaway, 126; Count Fleet, 132; Citation, 126; Secretariat, 129; Seattle Slew, 126; Affirmed, 126.

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89868/ties-atop-tjcs-experimental-free-handicaps#ixzz3QEVnHtAW

Belle Gallantey Looks for More in Ladies ‘Cap

After opening the season with a fifth-place finish in the Affectionately Handicap Jan. 1 at Aqueduct Racetrack, two-time grade I winner Belle Gallantey will try to bounce back in her second start of 2015 on Saturday, Jan. 31, in the Ladies Handicap on the inner track at Aqueduct Racetrack.

In the $100,000 Ladies, Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables’ Belle Gallantey will try to return to the form that saw her win last year’s Beldame Stakes (gr. I) and Delaware Handicap (gr. I). When the 6-year-old daughter of After Market starts in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares 4 and older, she will try to improve on her Affectionately start where she chased Penwith from second into the stretch before fading to fifth.

The Affectionately marked former claimer Belle Gallantey’s first start since finishing ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) Oct. 31 at Santa Anita Park to close out her 2014 campaign. Belle Gallantey has breezed twice since the Affectionately for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, including a five-furlong bullet move in 1:02.12 Jan. 22 at Aqueeuct.

The Ladies field also features Godolphin Stables’ Penwith, who set the pace before finishing second to America in the Affectionately, and Sean Shay’s Shayjolie, who finished fourth in that race. Also entered are Moment in Dixie, off a runner-up finish in the Wintergreen Stakes Jan. 3 at Turfway Park, and Holiday’s Jewel, who won an allowance-optional claiming race Dec. 28 at Aqueduct.

Ladies H.

Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, January 31, 2015, Race 3
  • STK
  • 1 1/8m
  • Inner track
  • $100,000
  • 4 yo’s & up Fillies and Mares
  • 1:43 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Weight Trainer
1 Moment in Dixie (KY) Junior Alvarado 117 James J. Toner
2 Belle Gallantey (KY) Manuel Franco 123 Rudy R. Rodriguez
3 Penwith (KY) Fernando Jara 118 Kiaran P. McLaughlin
4 Holiday’s Jewel (KY) Angel S. Arroyo 115 Mitchell E. Friedman
5 Shayjolie (KY) Jose L. Ortiz 115 Gary C. Contessa

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89867/belle-gallantey-looks-for-more-in-ladies-cap#ixzz3QEVJ0KTR

Palace Malice Sustains Minor Foot Bruise

Multiple grade I winner Palace Malice threw a shoe while galloping Jan. 28 and sustained a minor bruise to his left front foot, causing a slight delay in his training regimen in Aiken, S.C.

The 5-year-old son of Curlin   who turned in his first breeze of 2015 on Jan. 22 in Aiken after returning to conditioning mid-November after a layoff at Three Chimneys Farm did not train the morning of Jan. 29 and will not breeze Jan. 30 as was originally planned by his connections. Owned by Dogwood Stable in partnership with Three Chimneys, he was scheduled to return to trainer Todd Pletcher in Florida Feb. 1, and will now have that trip postponed as well.

NOVAK: Palace Malice Returns to Worktab in Aiken

“He threw a shoe yesterday and bruised his foot in the process, and was off this morning,” Dogwood president Cot Campbell said Jan. 29. “He did not train today. We planned to breeze him tomorrow, and we certainly will not do that. We planned to ship him (to Florida) Sunday, and will not do that.

“It looks very minor but we’re going to get him right, which we expect to do in a few days, and then regroup and either breeze him here next week or send him down to Todd. That’s indefinite until he gets right, and we have every reason to believe he will recover shortly.”

Palace Malice’s connections have mapped out a five-race campaign in 2015 for the winner of the 2013 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), beginning with the Westchester Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park in May and culminating in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Keeneland. Other stops along the way are likely to include the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont, the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) back at Belmont.

“I think we’re fine, but we want to get him right,” Campbell said. “We’re very optimistic.”

In 2014 Palace Malice won the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II), New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), Westchester, and Met Mile before an off-the-board finish in the Whitney. His season was good enough to earn him a finalist placing in the Eclipse Award balloting for champion older male.

Palace Malice was originally retired from racing, but after an extensive veterinary examination found him sound and fully recovered from a bone bruise suffered during his unplaced Whitney run, he rehabbed at Three Chimneys. He then shipped to Aiken to get back in condition under the supervision of Brad Stauffer and Ron Stevens before returning to the racetrack.

Three Chimneys bought a half interest in Palace Malice from Dogwood in September. Upon his retirement, the Kentucky operation will acquire full ownership of the colt. This year he is slated to race in the name of Three Chimneys Farm/Dogwood Stable.

Palace Malice is the winner of six graded stakes and is Curlin’s top earner with current career earnings of $2,676,135. Bred in Kentucky by William S. Farish out of the Royal Anthem mare Palace Rumor, he was a $200,000 purchase by Dogwood from the Niall Brennan consignment at the 2012 Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale, after being pinhooked by Colin Brennan for $25,000 from the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale when consigned by Lane’s End.

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89870/palace-malice-sustains-minor-foot-bruise#ixzz3QEUfHMa1

‘Chrome’ Tops U.S. Nominees for World Cup

Horse of the Year California Chrome, dual champion Main Sequence, and Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Bayern are among U.S. runners nominated for races on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) card March 28 at Meydan.
Of the current 20 highest-rated Thoroughbreds in the world that remain in training, 13 are among the 2,142 nominations from 19 countries for the World Cup program, including the highest-rated horses from Japan, Hong Kong, Great Britain, and the U.S.
The top seven finishers in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) are considering the $10-million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup, which attracted 24 horses based in the U.S. and 296 nominations overall. In addition to Classic winner Bayern is Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and Preakness (both gr. I) winner California Chrome, who was third in that race; United Arab Emirates Derby (UAE-II) winner Toast of New York, who was second; 2013 champion juvenile male Shared Belief, fourth; Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Tonalist, fifth; Candy Boy, sixth; and Cigar Street, seventh.
Bayern’s trainer, Bob Baffert, has twice previously won the Dubai World Cup, with Silver Charm in 1998 and Captain Steve in 2001.
The World Cup will be run on dirt at 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles).
Main Sequence, named the U.S. champion older male and champion turf male, is nominated for the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) at 2,410 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) on turf. He is trained by Graham Motion, who prepared Animal Kingdom   to win the 2013 Dubai World Cup.
Japanese runners also dominate, with many holding multiple nominations for the three richest races on the big day, Dubai Sheema Classic; the newly named $6 million Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World, previously run as the Dubai Duty Free; and the Dubai World Cup.
The Katsuhiko Sumii-trained Epiphaneia, the highest-rated horse in training, holds a Dubai World Cup nomination. It was Sumii who was responsible for the 2011 Dubai World Cup victory of Victoire Pisa and he is preparing his Japan Cup (Jpn-I) winner for another tilt at the race, although the horse also holds nominations for the Dubai Sheema Classic and the Dubai Turf. Gold Ship, the Takarazuka Kinen (Jpn-I) winner, is also on the list from Japan, as is Japan Derby (Jpn-I) winner One and Only and Japan One Thousand Guineas (Jpn-I) winner Harp Star.
Hong Kong was responsible for the two sprint winners on Dubai World Cup day last season, and trainer John Moore, who won the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) with Sterling City looks to hold a strong hand with the world’s best miler, 2014 Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) victor Able Friend on the list for the Dubai Turf, as well as Hong Kong Cup winner Designs On Rome. Second in that race, Military Attack, has also been nominated. Peniaphobia, winner of the 2014 Jockey Club Sprint as well as the recent Hong Kong group I Centenary Sprint has also been nominated for the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News. Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) winner Aerovelocity has also been nominated for both the Dubai Golden Shaheen and the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint empowered by IPIC.
Godolphin is well represented across the board by both Charlie Appleby and the 2014 Dubai World Cup winning trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, as is Dubai World Cup Carnival regular, Mike de Kock. Sir Fever represents an interesting new recruit for Appleby. The multiple Uruguayan group I winner has been nominated for the Dubai World Cup as well as the Dubai Sheema Classic, Dubai Turf, and the UAE Derby.
Meanwhile, bin Suroor, a six-time Dubai World Cup-winning trainer, has nominated his 2014 winner, African Story.
“I believe this is the strongest group of entries we have had for the Dubai World Cup meeting in its 20 year history,” said Martin Talty, Dubai Racing Club’s international manager. “The strength of the USA challenge is evident with the first seven over the line in the Breeders’ Cup Classic as well as Main Sequence. Match that with the best from Asia, a region that has shown to be among the leaders, if not the leader, in international racing in recent years and with Epiphaneia, Harp Star, Gold Ship, and One And Only from Japan and Able Friend from Hong Kong proves how strong the depth is this year.
“As we approach the big day on March 28, so the fields will come more firmly into focus and we hope that most of these very accomplished horses that have been aimed at the 20th renewal of the race day will remain in the final fields. There is a lot of competition from racing jurisdictions to attract the best and to have nominations from so many of the world’s top-rated horses is a great achievement for the Dubai World Cup, Dubai Racing Club, and Meydan Group and proves that it is at the pinnacle of international racing.”
For the listing of nominees, by race, for the Dubai World Cup program, click here.
For a breakdown of the World Cup program by nation, click here.

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89831/chrome-tops-us-nominees-for-world-cup#ixzz3Q7Bklq7f

New York Sanctions Mott for Drug Overages

New York Sanctions Mott for Drug Overages


The New York State Gaming Commission has sanctioned trainer Bill Mott for a pair of medication overages in a single horse last fall, a decision the Racing Hall of Fame conditioner is appealing.

Mott has been suspended 15 days and fined $1,000 for overages of the drug flunixin (banamine) and furosemide in multiple stakes winner Saratoga Snacks in a Sept. 20 race at Belmont Park. August Dawn Farm’s Saratoga Snacks finished last of six in the one-mile allowance race.

Both substances were found at levels seven to 10 times above the maximum permitted in the system on race day. Mott believes the especially high levels of flunixin and furosemide reported in Saratoga Snacks’ system indicate a problem with the testing.

Flunixin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and furosemide (commonly called Salix or Lasix) is a diuretic used to prevent, or reduce the severity, of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.

“We believe the test results are so out of line, the circumstances so atypical, that there’s no validity to this finding,” said Mott’s attorney, Drew Mollica. “The reading is so off the chart it’s incomprehensible. Our reading is that the totality of the circumstances engender the fact that there’s some problem. Something’s wrong.”

Mollica said giving a horse that amount of flunixin would be counterproductive, and he said a New York Racing Association veterinarian administered just 3 cubic centimeters of furosemide, a level well below the 10-cc limit.

Mott’s appeal will be heard by a hearing officer. A date for the appeal to begin has not been determined.

Research of records indicate Mott has not been suspended by a regulatory body in more than 10 years.

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89809/new-york-sanctions-mott-for-drug-overages#ixzz3Q3BuLeGb

Nerud-Owned and Bred Colt Wins at Big A


Nerud-Owned and Bred Colt Wins at Big A

Photo: Skip Dickstein – John Nerud

John Nerud, who turns 102 on Feb. 9, is still winning races as an owner and breeder. His latest victory came Jan. 23 at Aqueduct Racetrack when second-time starter, the appropriately named Final Chapter, broke his maiden wire-to-wire by 1 1/4 lengths going six furlongs (VIDEO).

The 3-year-old New York-bred son of Thunder Gulch—Comedy of Errors, by Colonial Affair went right to the lead for trainer Mike Hushion, opening a four-length advantage at the eighth pole before winning comfortably in 1:12.07. In his only other start, he finished third in his career debut last November.

“When I had him at Barry Schwartz’ farm as a yearling, I had his heart measured and he had a very slow heartbeat, the best on the farm,” Nerud said. “That doesn’t mean he’s going to be a runner, but it’s a good sign in a young horse.

“I won with the first horse I ever owned and bred and I’ve won with the last horse I owned and bred. And I’ve had a few good ones in between.”

Nerud, of course, is known for training and being part-owner of the legendary Dr. Fager and his half-sister, two-time champion Ta Wee, as well as being owner and breeder of major breeding influences Fappiano, Unbridled, and Cozzene, just to name a few.

Nerud has never been a fan of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and in fact has only run one horse in the Derby, and that was Ralph Lowe’s Gallant Man, who was beaten a nose by Iron Leige in 1957 when jockey Bill Shoemaker misjudged the finish line and stood up on Gallant Man before the wire. Nerud said he feels young horses are not ready for the Derby grind and he has avoided temptation on several occasions after Gallant Man, whose owner wanted to run.

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89824/nerud-owned-and-bred-colt-wins-at-big-a#ixzz3Q3ABDwUh

Jockey Chapa Faces Felony Race-Fixing Charges

Jockey Chapa Faces Felony Race-Fixing Charges

Texas jockey Roman Chapa is facing felony criminal charges related to race-fixing following allegations that he carried an electrical shock device in a winning race at Sam Houston Race Park Jan. 17 in Houston.

KPRC-TV in Houston reports that Chapa has been charged with unlawful influence on racing after allegedly carrying the shock device in the stakes race he won aboard Quiet Acceleration.

According to court records cited in the story, scrutiny of a photograph showing the apparent shock device in Chapa’s hand began shortly after Chapa demanded the picture be removed from the Sam Houston website.

Investigators told KPRC-TV that Chapa denies using the device during the race and claimed the picture was photo-shopped because “someone was trying to frame him.”

Sam Houston officials are working with law enforcement.

“We are pleased to see the swiftness with which the Texas Racing Commission, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Harris County District Attorney’s office have moved in their investigation of Mr. Chapa’s January 17th mount at Sam Houston Race Park,” said Sam Houston president Andrea Young. “These sorts of actions have no place in our sport, and are a disservice to the tens of thousands of people involved in our sport who play by the rules every day. We will continue to support this investigation in every way possible.”

On Jan. 19 the Texas Racing Commission summarily suspended Chapa while it conducts an investigation.

Chapa has been suspended twice previously for possessing an electrical device, which is prohibited in racing. During his first year as a jockey, Chapa was suspended for 19 months in Texas for carrying such a device, according to the New York Times. In 2007, he was suspended five years in New Mexico for possession of an electrical device and was reinstated on a probationary basis in May 2011 prior to completion of the suspension.

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89827/jockey-chapa-faces-felony-race-fixing-charges#ixzz3Q39mka1i

Final Call for Taylors of Seattle Slew Fame

Final Call for Taylors of Seattle Slew Fame

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt – Karen and Mickey Taylor with Seattle Slew

(This article originally published in the Jan. 24, 2015, issue of The Blood-Horse)

It is one short line in a regional sale catalog, yet it harkens back to one of the highest peaks in the world of Thoroughbred racing: “Complete Dispersal of Karen & Mickey Taylor.”

The six broodmares, six racing prospects, four yearlings, one 2-year-old, and the stallion Council Member that were to be offered at the Barretts mixed sale Jan. 26 represent the last vestiges of the holdings of the co-owners of Seattle Slew, the only undefeated Triple Crown winner and a breed-shaping stallion whose blood courses through the majestic gray body of North American leading sire Tapit.

In truth, the Taylors faded from the scene back on that May day in 2002 when Seattle Slew breathed his last, leaving Kentucky that afternoon to return to their native Pacific Northwest. Since then, they have raced descendants of Slew’s on minor circuits. Now, though, it’s final.

“After 42 years Karen and I are calling it in,” said Mickey Taylor in early January. “It’s just time to get out. The game is a lot different now.”

To those who saw how the Taylors virtually lived with Seattle Slew in his final years, helping him fight assorted maladies that come with old age, it is no surprise that the recent death of their beloved 13-year-old Labrador retriever Chet has impacted them deeply.

“Getting over my dog is the toughest thing to do,” said Taylor. “I was away from him six days in 13 1/2 years.”

Rick Taylor (no relation), who is consigning the Taylor dispersal through his Special T Thoroughbreds, has known them from their pre-Slew days in Washington.

“They’re the kind of people that don’t hesitate to take a chip out of a $25,000 claimer,” said Rick Taylor. “If any of their horses colic, they go right to the hospital.”

Mickey and Karen Taylor met on a blind date at a high school basketball game in Ellensburg, Wash. Both were from families of lumbermen. Mickey formed his own company and hit the jackpot when Canadian firms stopped supplying paper to the West Coast in 1973. The market exploded, and Mickey, a horse player, was in Kentucky the following year buying yearlings on the advice of Florida veterinarian Jim Hill.

The two first met in a hotel lobby where Hill came upon Taylor kicking a balky newspaper machine trying to get his 15 cents back.

A year later Taylor was bidding on a son of Bold ReasoningMy Charmer. When Mickey stalled at $12,000, Karen shot an elbow into his ribs to pick up the bit, and so Mickey wound up purchasing Seattle Slew for $17,500 for himself, Karen, and Jim and Sally Hill.

He was a big, coarse, awkward colt, but strong. And he got a lot better-looking once he started to work. By the time he won the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) by 93⁄4 lengths, Mickey Taylor knew the significance of what he was seeing.

“If we can keep this horse together, I’ll never have to cut another tree,” he said.

Seattle Slew won 14 of 17 starts and $1.2 million. And that was just the appetizer. Mickey Taylor proudly became the first non-Kentuckian to syndicate a Thoroughbred, that deal worth $12 million. And Slew continued to deliver, becoming the first horse of his magnitude to match his spectacular race record with equal prepotency as a stallion. The Taylors and Hills raced his champion son Slew o’ Gold and his first winner, Slewpy.

Slew’s first crop also included champion Landaluce. His son Swale won the 1984 Kentucky Derby (gr. I). A.P. Indy became a Horse of the Year and carried forward his sire’s line through sons such as Malibu Moon and Pulpit, the latter the sire of Tapit  .

It is no exaggeration to state that Mickey and Karen Taylor have influenced the Thoroughbred breed as much as any other humans over the past 40 years.

There were hiccups along the way, such as the ill-fated decision to run Slew in the Swaps Stakes (gr. I) three weeks after his Triple Crown, and the break from trainer Billy Turner, who had accomplished so much with the colt.

But the Taylors’ legacy, to this writer, was authored in the one-horse barn on the grounds of Three Chimneys Farm. There, with Slew’s groom, Tom Wade, the Taylors valiantly attempted to halt the hands of time. Daily they sent medical records and X-rays back and forth to surgeons in California, trying to get Slew through his spinal problems. They walked him prescribed distances and talked to their star and doted on him, even playing music he enjoyed. They served carrot cake for his 27th birthday party. He was their son, their honored guest, their life.

And this sport has been all the richer for their participation.

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/89806/final-call-for-taylors-of-seattle-slew-fame#ixzz3Q17YDqKb


Revisiting Penny’s Birthday Party One Year Later



This column seemed to be well-received by Secretariat fans last year, so I thought I would reprint it as an annual Birthday present to Penny and all Big Red ‘s fans who might have missed it last year. Mrs. Chenery celebrates her 93rd birthday on Tuesday, Jan. 27. So let’s return to her party one year later, but this time with nine photos of Big Red included.


The party is about to begin. The guests, both two-legged and four-legged, are arriving to celebrate Penny Chenery’s 92nd birthday. The room is decked out in blue and white balloons, and hanging on the walls are dozens of racing photos, including the covers of Sports Illustrated, Time, and Newsweek. It is a time for nostalgia, for remembering a great lady, who in 1973 was The Queen in a sport of kings.

One by one, the guests present Penny with a birthday card, inscribed with their birthday wishes.

“Dear Penny, first off, thanks for losing that coin flip and for being the greatest press agent a star like me could ask for. And thanks for all the comforts in life you provided, especially supplying me with the most dazzling harem a handsome stud could ask for. I know I rewarded you and helped make you famous, but it only equals what you did for me, although I have to admit I wouldn’t have minded staying in bed and sleeping all day on September 29, 1973. All in all, it was a magical journey and we should take great pride in knowing that we raised the equine genus up a notch and created the standard by which all others are measured. And I never told you this, but I did see you flailing your arms wildly as I came down the stretch in the Belmont Stakes. What a moment that was. I’m sorry I left you so soon, but, unlike the racetrack, there are things in life we have no control over. Hopefully, one day they’ll find a cure for laminitis. I do miss those Certs breath mints at Claiborne Farm. Now that we are reunited on this day, and I see my name in the pedigrees of so many top-class horses, I want to take the time to wish you a very Happy Birthday and many more to come.”

– Your number one glamour boy, Secretariat

“Dear Penny, it gives me great pleasure to return to wish you a Happy 92nd birthday. I remember those early days when you had that funny-looking hairdo and no one knew who you were. I have to admit I wasn’t crazy about being cast aside and living in the shadow of you know who (I still can’t say his name), but deep down we both know who always remained number one in your heart and who really helped bring Meadow Stud back into national prominence. I even forgive you for allowing the Disney people to cut me out of that movie, as if I never existed. But I understand why they had to do it. If they hadn’t, the movie would have been about me. You and Lucien learned a lot from the admitted mistakes you made with me after the Triple Crown, and I’m glad at least for that, although I would have loved to go out a winner after the Stuyvesant Handicap and not have to slog those two miles in the Jockey Club Gold Cup again. But I’d rather concentrate on those glory days of 1971 and early ‘72 when I was The Boss and America’s sweetheart. With my lop ears and narrow frame I wasn’t the movie star that a certain big red horse was, but I was a kind, gentle soul, and it is with all sincerity that I wish you the happiest of birthdays.”

– Your first love, Riva Ridge

“Dear Penny, we had some rough times and some stressful times, but mostly loving and joyous times together, and through it all you were one classy lady, and I don’t even mind you telling the world about us after all these years. You plucked me out of retirement and a sedentary life of boredom and thrust me onto the national stage and gave me fame and fortune at a time when I thought I had saddled my last horse, never to be remembered in the history books. We had a great run together, sharing all the ups and downs, mostly ups, and for that I will remain eternally grateful. Happy Birthday, and I have to say, you still look damn good.”

– Your admiring trainer, Lucien Laurin

“Dear Penny, Well, we’re still around after all these years. I certainly have no regrets, despite the unfortunate twist my life took. But that was many years ago as well. Thanks to you and Big Red, and, yes, Riva, I still am able to keep busy doing autograph signings and attending major events and meeting the fans, old and new. I thank you for two days in particular – August 2, 1971, when you put me on Riva Ridge for the first time in the Flash Stakes, and July 31, 1972, when you and Lucien allowed me to get a leg up on the greatest horse of all time in an allowance race, when no one had heard of the name Secretariat. I had ridden many top horses before that, but my career was launched into orbit that day at Saratoga. Have a wonderful birthday and I’m sure we’ll see each other at the next signing.”

– Your favorite jockey, Ron Turcotte

“Dear Penny, how great it is to see you again and all the old familiar faces. I see Big Red over there and have a burning desire to go over and take the brush to him and give him the brightest shine he’s ever had. What I wouldn’t give to wrap my arms around his neck one more time and tell him what a champ he is. And how about ‘ol Riva, still lookin’ as laid back as ever, with those ears floppin’ all over. Boy, do I miss those days, and I have you and Lucien to thank for allowing me to spend every day of my life during those unforgettable years taking care of legends. I think I’ll go over and at least feed Red and Riva a nice big piece of birthday cake for old times’ sake. Keep up the good causes and for making racing a better sport.”

– Your faithful groom, Eddie Sweat

“Dear Penny, I’m sure you don’t remember us, well, maybe you do, but although we were a big disappointment to you, not living up to our brothers’ reputation, we did try, but we just weren’t blessed with their talent. But we do want to thank you for at least putting us in the spotlight for our maiden races and having all of racing following us and rooting for us. They are moments we’ll never forget. Have a wonderful birthday and we’ll go over now and try to renew family acquaintances. Thanks again for the 15 minutes of fame.”

– Happy Birthday from Red and Riva’s brothers, Capital Asset and Capito

“Dear Penny, I know we had our differences and you and your horse robbed me and my horse of our immortality, and I do have to tell you that regardless of how they portrayed me in the movie, I am not a loudmouth and a bully, and deep down was a great admirer of you and Secretariat. I did get in the Hall of Fame, so there is something to say for that. I still would love to get another crack at that big red horse with my beautiful Sham, but that’s not going to happen, so I’ll just accept it and think about what might have been had Sham come along in a different year. I’m so glad you’re still around to tell everyone about those days and of two very special horses.”

– Your one-time antagonist, Frank “Pancho” Martin

“Dear Penny, all I can do is echo my trainer’s words and wish I hadn’t bloodied my mouth and lost a tooth hitting it against the gate at the start of the Derby. Who knows, right? Hey, I did finish ahead of you guys in the Wood Memorial, abscess or no abscess. That’s’ something. It was a good fight overall; I just came out second best. They said I had an unusually large heart, but Red’s heart was even larger. Some luck, huh?”

– Happy Birthday from your equine antagonist, Sham

“Dear Penny, it’s great to see you again. I’m happy to say that Big Red’s old home, Claiborne Farm, is back on the upswing thanks to Arch, Blame, Pulpit, and War Front. Things are going well here, and on your 92nd birthday I would love to give you the world’s biggest cake, so that it could hold six million candles. Well, 6.08 million to be exact. You helped make my career when I was just a mere youngster and trying so hard to fill my daddy’s shoes and impress Mr. Phipps and the other board members. It was so great working with you in putting together a deal far beyond anything anyone had ever seen before. We rewrote the book on syndicating horses. We made history, and we will share that bond for all time.”

– Your one-time partner, Seth Hancock

“Dear Penny, bet you didn’t think we’d make it here, but there was no way we were going to miss seeing you and all our old friends. We remember those old days at The Meadow and you as a little girl growing up, and the apple of your pappy’s eyes. Man, it’s good to see Big Red and Riva again after helpin’ raise them as babies. We remember the day we put Red in that first stall in the yearling barn, so we knew then he was the special one of the bunch. Man, he was strong. He was so different from Riva. Red would test us, but Riva was just a kind soul. It was sad to see The Meadow go, and we never did go back again, even though we passed it all the time. We remember bein’ picked up every mornin’ in Duval Town, that was built after the emancipation to house freed slaves. They’d pick us up and bring us to the farm. We sure did love workin’ for Mr. Chenery. He always treated us so well, as you did. Oh, by the way, Aunt Sadie and Magnolia say hi and Happy Birthday. And so did ‘ol Wilbur (Bill) and Harry Street, who vanned Red to Hialeah as a 2-year-old, and Howard Gentry, and Olive Britt, who still regrets not gettin’ to the farm in time take Red out of Somethingroyal. But she remembers Mr. Gentry telling her, ‘This is what we’ve been waiting for for 35 years.’”

– Happy Birthday from the boys at home — Charlie Ross, Howard Gregory, Bannie Mines, Lewis Tillman, and Raymond “Peter Blue” Goodall

“Dear Penny, all I can say is thank you for allowing me to name Secretariat, even though it took six tries to get it. It was my honor and privilege working by your side during those years. You were indeed your father’s daughter. A very Happy Birthday.”

– From Meadow Stud secretary Elizabeth Ham

“Dear Penny, I had so much fun playing you in the Secretariat movie. I have to admit I hadn’t been to a racetrack since I filmed ‘A Little Romance’ at Longchamp when I was 13. It was inspirational becoming you and just being with you at Belmont on Belmont Stakes day and seeing the admiration people still have for you. I have to admit my favorite moment in the movie was telling our shady trainer to pack up and take a hike. So, thanks for letting me into your world and for making this such a fun role. I hope I look as good as you at 92.”

– Happy Birthday from the other Penny, Diane Lane

“My Dear Penny, thank you for being there when I needed you and for keeping the name of our beloved Meadow alive. You gave up the life you had built for yourself and your family to return to your roots and help save what we built up over so many years. I’m so proud of you for what you accomplished and the self-confident, strong-willed person you became. I didn’t live to see Secretariat, but I was there with you all the way. I hope you’re aware of that. It is so reassuring to know that it was from our blood, passed on through the generations, that a legend was born; perhaps the greatest of all time. And, yes, I was well aware at the time that we finally won the Kentucky Derby with Riva. It gave me a great deal of comfort knowing that. To see you now, celebrating your 92nd birthday, warms my heart, as does seeing my grandson tell the story of your life so masterfully. The Meadow is gone, but it will never be forgotten thanks to you.”

– Your loving father

So, let’s light the candles and cut the cake and celebrate a life well lived, and remember a very special time, not only in racing, but in America. It truly was a time for heroes.

These next three photos of Secretariat were published in an earlier blog, but I decided to post them again. This first one is after being saddled in the Preakness. I had photographed him looking straight ahead, and when he heard the click of the shutter, he turned his head and looked right at me…or through me. It was a memorable one-on-one moment with a legend.

This one is of Secretariat and Riva Ridge at Belmont Park going out for separate works on the turf course in September. The slow mile was of no help to Big Red after Penny Tweedy and Lucien Laurin decided to run the colt in the Woodward Stakes and scratch Riva Ridge when the track came up sloppy. Secretariat had just broken the world record for 1 1/8 miles two weeks earlier after having been sick and now he was being asked to come back quickly and stretch out to 1 1/2 miles. Prove Out still had to run the second-fastest mile and a half in Belmont history in the mud to beat him.

This is my favorite shot of Secretariat at stud. When we approached the fence, he went over and picked up a large branch and brought it over, defying me to try pull it out of his mouth. I felt like I was playing fetch with a dog.

Secretariat’s farewell at Aqueduct. Once again he put on a show, breaking off into a show horse canter. As he headed back toward the clubhouse turn, a shaft of light beamed down directly on him and seemed to illuminate him, creating a surreal final image.

Secretariat rises like the Phoenix at his new home at Claiborne Farm.

Yours truly in his weird 70’s look makes up Big Red’s entourage, along with Penny, Lucien, Ron Turcotte, and Eddie Sweat as the colt heads to the track to work for the Wood Memorial.

With his neck muscles rippling and his gargantuan stride, Big Red works a mile for the Wood.

Secretariat and Riva Riva Ridge on the walking ring at Belmont on a September morning.

Big Red is all majesty in motion as he heads to the Belmont track for his work over the grass course.

Read more on BloodHorse.com: http://cs.bloodhorse.com/blogs/horse-racing-steve-haskin/archive/2015/01/25/revisiting-penny-s-birthday-party-one-year-later.aspx?&utm_source=DailyNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20150126#ixzz3PvmOtto6